Dark Tranquility

Tales of Ordinary Madness Dark Tranquillity - Damage Done (Century Media Records) 2002

1.       Final Resistance (3:01)
2.       Hours Passed in Exile (4:45)
3.       Monochromatic Stains (3:38
4.       Single Part of Two (3:52)
5.       The Treason Wall (3:30)
6.       Format C: for Cortex (4:30)
7.       Damage Done (3:28)
8.       Cathode Ray Sunshine (4:14)
9.       The Enemy (3:56)
10.      I, Deception (3:55)
11.      White Noise / Black Silence (4:09)
12.      Ex Nihilo [instrumental] (4:31)

Dark Tranquillity follows along in the same school of melodic death metal as In Flames, Soilwork, etc. Heavy, but melodic and retaining an overall melancholic atmosphere. "Damage Done" is actually my first exposure to this band. I'm a bit picky when it comes to death metal as a lot of it sounds samey to me and just doesn't hold my attention very long. This is especially true of the vocals. It's all about aggression and the "grrrrrr" factor. To me, real metal has power behind the vocals as well as the music. There are hooks, riffs that get your head to banging and emotion. "Damage Done" is definitely not a pop record by any stretch of the imagination. For the most part the songs are all fast paced and the intensity never lets up. The album demands intense listening, and even multiple plays to really begin to appreciate it. On first listen, the songs sounded very similar to each other with very little variation in tempos, riffs, vocal delivery, etc. There are no fist-pumping anthems, or parts that will have anyone singing along.  Basically, there are no easy hooks to grab hold of. As such, the album tended to get a bit monotonous. However upon further spins, the emotion within the songs begin to manifest. With "Damage Done", Dark Tranquility have definitely recorded an album chock full of emotion. They manage to find beauty in darkness, melody in extreme metal and texture in sound. These things are most definitely their strong points. There is also a lot of contrasts within the songs themselves with the coarse vocals of Mikael Stanne clashing with the keyboards and melodic nature of the songs. Thankfully the keyboards aren't overly annoying like many flower metal bands, even in their more piercing moments. For the most part they are in the background adding to the overall texture of the music.

The songs themselves have a dark, almost neo-classical quality. This is especially true of the albums only instrumental "Ex Nihilo". This song is a slow, almost doom-based, haunting instrumental. It might have been nice for this song to have been moved up to the middle of the album to break up the mayhem a little. There were a few moments where the band delivered a thrash riff, such as the intro and main riff of "White Noise/Black Silence". Being a thrash-fanatic, I would have loved to have heard a little more of this. Still, "Damage Done" is a fine slab of musical art; a completely enjoyable album of modern Swedish melodic death metal. Frankly, I think they are better described as Swedish extreme power metal. Labels be damned!

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